American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) announced today that Stephen Johnson has been named Vice Chair and Chief Strategy Officer. In this expanded role, Johnson will lead and help shape American’s strategic efforts and initiatives across the enterprise and have responsibility for American Eagle and American Airlines Cargo.
"This is part of our long-term plan to continue strengthening our senior leadership team,” said American’s CEO Robert Isom. “Steve has served as an incredible leader and a trusted advisor to our airline over the past three decades, and to me personally throughout my first year as CEO. He will continue to guide our strategy, our focus on the economy and its impact on our business, and our corporate development, working closely with our board and senior leadership team. And I know our Regional and Cargo teams will excel under Steve’s leadership as those businesses continue to evolve and continue to provide outstanding service to customers throughout our global network.”
Following the retirement of Derek Kerr, Johnson will have responsibility for the airline’s cargo and American Eagle regional operations, with a focus on developing new strategies for those businesses. Heather Garboden, American’s Senior Vice President of Regionals and Cargo, will report to Johnson in his new role.
Additionally, Johnson will continue to provide counsel to the CEO and the board of directors and collaborate with the senior leadership team on key markets and competition issues; corporate governance, corporate purpose and sustainability; policy development and external affairs; and labor relations strategy.
“I’m thrilled to step into this new role at such an exciting time for American and the airline industry,” said Johnson. “I look forward to partnering with our board, Robert, and my friends and colleagues on our senior leadership team as we continue to re-imagine the business. As we embark on our next chapter, we are keenly focused on building a sustainable American Airlines, creating value for our customers and team members, and changing the value proposition for our shareholders.”
Johnson joined the airline in 1995, starting at America West Airlines and holding a variety of positions through 2003, including Executive Vice President – Corporate. Prior to that, he served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at GPA Group PLC and practiced law at the Seattle-based law firm Bogle & Gates.
After his time at America West, Steve was a partner at Indigo Partners LLC, a private equity firm specializing in investments in the airline industry, until he joined US Airways in 2009. From then until early 2022, Johnson served as Executive Vice President – Corporate Affairs, and was responsible for corporate governance and legal affairs, government and regulatory affairs, labor relations, and real estate and airport affairs. Over the past year he has served as Executive Vice President and Strategic Advisor.
Johnson is a member and deputy chair of the board of directors of Wizz Air Holdings PLC. He is a Lecturer at Berkeley Law and the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and serves on the Executive Advisory Board of the University’s Berkeley Center for Law and Business. Johnson earned his Master of Business Administration and Juris Doctor from the University of California, Berkeley, after beginning his undergraduate education at the University of Washington and earning a Bachelor of Arts in economics from California State University, Sacramento.